Changes in New Jersey’s drunk driving laws to take effect Dec. 1

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Changes to New Jersey’s Driving While Intoxicated laws will take effect Dec. 1.

The biggest change deals with first-time drunk driving offenders. First-time offenders will now be able to keep their driver’s licenses. In the past, they faced suspension. But now a first-time offender will have to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. The driver will have to use a breathalyzer in order to get the car to start.

These interlock devices were previously only mandated for a driver’s second drunk driving offense.

Supporters of the new law say that too often people who have had their licenses suspended would still drive. They say that the law is designed to prevent a potentially deadly habit.

RELATED: New drunk driving laws will require ignition lock devices for all offenders 

Data has shown that time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day often has the most DWI incidents due to the number of parties and celebrations. Various municipalities around New Jersey will have DWI checkpoints around this time of year to prevent people from driving under the influence.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that between 2013 and 2017 more than 800 people died due to alcohol-related crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Lawmakers say that another reason that they want to limit license suspensions is due to the toll it takes and families. Now being able to drive can prevent parents from getting to work or traveling for child care.

The new law only requires first-time offenders to get the device if their blood alcohol level is over .15.

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